What Is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft is a dental procedure in which a piece of healthy bone is grafted to the jaw to take the place of a damage section of bone. This may seem like a serious procedure, but in fact it is a relatively common. It is used to treat bone that has been damaged by advanced periodontal disease and is often a necessary step before the installation of dental implants. Here is what you need to know about dental bone grafts.

Where Does Bone for Grafts Come From?

In the past, bone for grafts had to be harvested from elsewhere on the patient’s body, usually a thigh or hip. However, recent advances in medical science allow your periodontist to use harvested bone from another source. This may be sterile bone from a human donor, or animal bone that has been treated so it is safe for use in humans.

Placing a Bone Graft

The method for placing bone grafts depends on how much bone needs to be grafted. If a single tooth has been removed and there is very little bone loss, the graft often consists of granules of bone about the size of grains of sand that are packed into the empty socket before a replacement tooth is placed. However, larger sections of damaged bone generally require larger grafts. In these cases, the tissue of the gums or soft palate are lifted and pieces of bone are placed underneath them. In time, these pieces of bone attach themselves to the existing bone and begin to grow. The amount of time needed for a successful bone graft depends on the size of the graft and the patient’s natural healing ability. If you have had a tooth extracted, then you may need some degree of bone grafting before you can have a replacement tooth inserted. Dr. Paul Fotek offers bone grafting in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, contact us for a consultation today!

What Is the Difference Between a Dentist and Periodontist?

People often use many terms to talk about the medical professionals who care for teeth. However, not every label means the same thing. For example, a dentist is completely different from a periodontist. It is important to understand how they differ so you understand what sort of care each can offer to you, which will enable you to make the best choice when choosing which type of doctor to see.

Dentist Defined

A dentist has a broad area of focus. Dentists will see patients for a range of dental issues, including those with the teeth, gums and other areas in the mouth. They will do fillings, root canals, cleanings and other general dental care tasks, including cosmetic work. When it comes to education, a dentist must complete four years of dental school on top of earning a bachelor’s degree.

Periodontist Defined

A periodontist is a specialist. Like a dentist, a periodontist in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, will have completed an undergraduate degree and four years of dental school, but he or she will also have to complete three years of specialized training. This training will enable a periodontist to prepare for the specialized care of the gums beyond what is learned in dental school. Periodontists will work on cases of severe gum disease in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Often patients are referred to this specialist by a dentist because severe gum disease cases may require intensive care that a dentist is not trained to do, such as scaling, surgery or periodontal plastic surgery. As you are searching for a dental professional, you should understand that not every title means the same thing. A dentist can be great for regular tooth care needs, but if you have issues with your gums, you may want to seek the care of a qualified periodontist. Give our office a call today to set up your appointment.

Periodontitis and Your Body

How is gum disease linked to cardiovascular disease?

Recent studies have shown that uncontrolled periodontal disease may increase the risk for developing cardiovascular disease.  Both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are chronic inflammatory conditions, thus researchers believe that inflammatory mediators may be the link between the two.  Untreated periodontal disease will increase the production of inflammatory mediators, which may potentiate the risk for development of more severe health complications, including cardiovascular disease.  However, research is still needed to determine the exact pathway of the relationship between the two inflammatory conditions.

Is there a link between periodontal disease and diabetes?

Research suggests a strong link between diabetes and gum disease.  Diabetic patients have shown to more readily develop periodontal disease, which in turn can destabilize blood sugar control and increase diabetic complications.  This is simply due to those with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections.  In fact, one of the many complications of diabetes is a greater risk for periodontal disease, especially in those people who don’t have their diabetes under control.  The relationship between the two conditions goes both ways; just as diabetes can increase a person’s chance of developing periodontal disease, research also suggests that efficient and intense periodontal therapy will positively affect blood sugar (HbA1C) control. Patients with active periodontal disease are more than 4 times as likely to increase blood sugar levels, contribute to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar and impede with blood sugar control.  This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for severe diabetic complications.  A consultation with Dr. Fotek may be appropriate if you feel that blood sugar levels have been difficult to control.

Heart Disease

Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease.  Although a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the two has not yet been established, researchers have shown that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease.  It is believed that inflammation is the connection between the two conditions.

Stroke

Recent research data suggests that gum disease carries a higher risk of causing a stroke than diabetes, a major known risk factor.  Those with active periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer a non-fatal stroke, compared to diabetes.  Active periodontal disease is equivalent to that of high blood pressure as a major cause of non-fatal strokes.

Osteoporosis

Researchers have suggested that a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw.  Data suggest that patients with osteoporosis have a greater propensity to lose alveolar bone especially in subjects with preexisting periodontitis.  Osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation. Estrogen deficiency that accompanies menopause may also speed up the progression of oral bone loss.  Insufficiency levels of estrogen accelerate the rate of attachment loss (fibers and tissues which keep the teeth stable are destroyed).

Respiratory Disease

Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the gums.  Recent data found that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with active periodontal disease.

Cancer

Researchers found that men with periodontal disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop carious forms of blood cancers.

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